While SharePoint has been a leader in the document and content sharing category for some time, it has remained admittedly weak on the social media front. A number of companies from the third-party ecosystem are trying fill the gaps between the portal's strong points and shortcomings with infusions of popular functions, and we thought it would be useful to highlight a few of the top dogs:

Jive

Jive Software (news, site) makes no bones about the belief that their Social Business Suite (SBS) -- first released as "Clearspace" in 2006 -- is the greatest thing to happen to the enterprise since sliced bread. Unsurprisingly, the company and its conveniently re-named platform have found very comfortable seats in the newly branded Social Business show, or what the Jive team likes to call The Consumerprise.

In the last couple of years Jive has become what many say is the leader in social business software, heading up many research reports on social business and collaboration, including this year’s Social CRM Magic Quadrant from Gartner.

With a bull’s eye on the winners’ circle, Jive’s Web Parts enable SharePoint users to tightly integrate the platform, merging workflows completely.

A breakdown of some key features:

  • SharePoint files are automatically shared with Jive
  • SharePoint activity is displayed in the Jive environment (new docs, file updates, calendar views, project lists, etc.)
  • Single sign-on enables users to read and review SharePoint documents from Jive without logging into SharePoint
  • Content can be pushed from one platform to the other with one click
  • Users can search across all discussions, documents, and experts from one location

 

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Jive and SharePoint integration

Key to Jive’s SharePoint-y success is certainly the blank-slate approach. The result has been a heavier focus on the engagement side of things rather than on document management, and thus far users are responding well.

“We think the best strategy is to design the platform around engaging people, not documents,” said Tim Zonca, Jive’s director of product marketing. “We wanted to be social from the ground up.”

If a road paved in solid people engagement appeals to you, Jive invites potential users to request an evaluation or watch some demo videos on their official site.

NewsGator

NewsGator’s (news, site) Social Sites amps up communities and collaboration within SharePoint by allowing users to create socially rich profiles from which they can connect and share ideas. Built directly on top of SharePoint, deeper perks include:

  • Information exchange: Status updates can be more than 140 characters and can include relevant videos, links, business files, and images
  • Search: Social Sites now integrates with SharePoint Search (pictured below), including Fast Search, through the use of BCS (business connectivity services).
  • Access: Use business social software clients - including email, mobile, and desktop - for flexible updating and consuming of status updates, comments, and likes
  • Administer: Administrative social software tools put the control in your hands. Users have the ability to delete inappropriate microblogging updates or comments, etc.

NewsGator released Version 2 of Social Sites 2010 earlier this year, notably adding a video-sharing module. The NewsGator Video Stream allows employees to upload video in any common format, store it in SharePoint, and share it as streaming media with a Silverlight-based player that can be embedded in the NewsGator activity stream.

"You can see the most recent, most liked, and most viewed videos, and the server intelligently picks the right bit rate to deliver that to the user," said Brian Kellner, vice president of development and product management, said in an interview. "The most powerful part is it can handle lots and lots of different video file formats." 

 

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NewsGator Social Sites - Video in the Activity Stream

NewsGator's niche is deep in the development process rather than integration, as the company focuses heavily on adding relatively limited social software features to Microsoft's corporate portal. Check out their solution if you're set on being the first to test new gadgets and gizmos in a business setting. 

Yammer

With an obvious microblog approach, Yammer's (news, site) SharePoint Web Part brings Yammer conversations directly to your existing workflow in a very familiar manner:

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 Yammer in SharePoint

The most recent version of the integration includes:

  • Notifications: Users can keep track of important messages and conversations happening within SharePoint.
  • Profile sync: Allows users to import profile information from SharePoint into Yammer.
  • Posting documents+: In addition to documents, users may post other list items such as calendar events and tasks from SharePoint to their Yammer feed.
  • Light embeddable feeds: Now it's easier for customers to disperse simple versions of the Yammer feed across numerous SharePoint pages.

Yammer’s been pushing the layer-not-a-feature attitude pretty hard this year, most notably during the release of its three most recent business integration tools: Yammer Activity Stream API, Enterprise Extensions and Yammer Embed.

"Adding a social layer to SharePoint drives engagement and enables users to instantly communicate about critical content and business issues," explained David Sacks, founder and CEO at Yammer. "With this...integration, SharePoint and Yammer work together to provide enterprise customers with the ultimate collaboration experience."

Yammer's offering has become a key integration for Microsoft since its initial release last year, attracting the attention of experts such as Jed Cawthorne, who said: "Base SP2010 does not really provide what most people would consider microblogging. It does offer a way of communication by leaving messages on individual users Noteboard’s — very reminiscent of leaving someone a message on their Facebook ‘Wall’."

If you’re interested in a seemingly ubiquitous environment, Yammer's a good way to go.

Telligent

Telligent (news, site) integrates Telligent Community with SharePoint to enhance forums, blogs and wikis. The company considers their tool to be the leading social software solution for the .NET architecture.

Like Jive, Telligent's integration package aims to provide a unified platform for knowledge sharing. Unlike Jive, the company highlights its offering with both its own social community software and document‐centric collaboration tools from Microsoft, promoting balanced corporate communication, employee collaboration and innovation.

For example, businesses can connect media libraries within Telligent Enterprise to Microsoft SP10 document libraries while maintaining the appropriate levels of security and privacy:

  • Telligent Enterprise files are immediately moved to Microsoft SharePoint 2010
  • File changes or additions automatically are captured and updated
  • Messaging is heavily consolidated, giving SharePoint 2010 members visibility into the activities of users connected to the Telligent platform.

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Telligent Enterprise 

“What’s been missing until now is enterprise-grade technology that integrates social tools into the workplace. It’s not about bypassing existing investments, such as Microsoft SharePoint. It’s about ensuring that businesses can extract the maximum amount of value from the tools they already have,” said Telligent's founder and CTO Rob Howard. 

Ergo, if you're in the market for a well balanced option, you may want to go the Telligent route

Closing Notes

Regardless of the vendor or platform in today's growing social business pool, one thing is certain: The consumerization of the enterprise is washing over us in an awesome wave. We expect a continued impact on business platforms and software adoption, and can't wait to see which social features will next find their way into platforms like the ones above. 

Rants or wishes? Drop them in the comments below. There's no time like the present to get a discussion rolling.